Saturday, February 19, 2011

"Welcome to Beverly Hills! You have arrived"

Even on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, one of the world's most expensive stretches of commercial real estate, the nation's economic woes have claimed a longtime employee.

Because of budget problems, the city's visitors bureau has laid off its official ambassador, who has welcomed hundreds of tourists and visitors on Rodeo Drive for the last 11 years.

Gregg Donovan, 51, the top-hat-wearing former hotel concierge, got his walking papers last month. No longer will he stroll Rodeo Drive, welcoming tourists to such high-end stores as Gianni Versace, Jimmy Choo and Battaglia. No longer will he address visitors with his signature greeting: "Welcome to Beverly Hills! You have arrived."

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